Why You Should Exercise Outside

According a recent article in the New York Times, Gretchen Reynolds argues that the benefits of exercising outdoors far exceed those of working out in a gym:

“While the allure of the gym — climate-controlled, convenient and predictable — is obvious, especially in winter, emerging science suggests there are benefits to exercising outdoors that can’t be replicated on a treadmill, a recumbent bicycle or a track.”
Hmn,  I wonder how working out outside might help with what Richard Louv has coined “nature deficit disorder”?
Read more here:
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It Matters How We Say It

“I wrote the same, but in different words.”

I don’t know if this is a “true” story, or based on one, but the point about how we use our words, and how our words convey our thoughts and ideas is the truth.

How we convey our ideas, our message, is as important as the ideas themselves.

As writers, we have many choices. For me as a writer, I struggle and I revel in those choices. As a writing teaching, sharing those choices is both a challenge and a joy.

I’m not trying to change my students writing, change what they have to say, but to show them that there are other ways to express their ideas that will be more moving, more transformative for their audience…and for themselves.

Gallery

Follow Your Bliss…Doors Will Open

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
From “The Summer Day” by Mary Oliver, House of Light

Follow your bliss and doors will open.

From an interview by Bill Moyers with Joseph Campbell

We change the world word by word.
From an interview by Bill Moyers with Maxine Hong Kingston

You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
From The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

You’ll find these four quotes Continue reading

Seth Godin’s “Stop Stealing Dreams”–a manifesto about education

 

Ever since it came out in March, I’ve been meaning to blog about Seth Godin’s manifesto on education, Stop Stealing Dreams.

But I’ve been too busy teaching. And learning how to be a better teacher to write about why it is so important to read that I gave a copy of the following highlights to my spring classes, and I’m assigning it to my summer classes!

It’s a quick read and you can download it for free. Or you can just read the following excerpts and tuck his ideas away for a later perusal…

If you’re more the video type, check out this TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson: “Do schools kill creativity?”

From section 16:

What is school for?

Here’s a hint: learning is not done to you. Learning is something you choose to do.

Continue reading

Is There Life Beyond The Lecture?

“Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.” Chinese Proverb

Some faculty are wonderful, engaging lecturers. Some are not.

Regardless, the classroom lecture continues to be the dominant form of instruction in the college classroom today–even though all the pedagogical research I have read shows that this is NOT the best way to teach–if you want students to remember what they are learning after the class is over.

In his article “Exploding the Lecture,” Steve Kolowich examines the example and strategies of a charismatic lecturer who has turned to creating online videos. Students watch Mike Garver’s lectures on their own time and as often as necessary then come to class where they have time to discuss, engage and apply the ideas in large and small groups. Kolowich writes:

Garver remembers his supervisor affirming the young lecturer’s confidence — before blowing it apart. “He basically said, ‘Mike, that was a great lecture. Have you ever heard of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning?’ ” Garver had not. His supervisor explained Benjamin Bloom’s 1956 formulation, which divides learning into higher and lower orders and emphasizes the importance of putting learned ideas to work.

“Even though your lecture was spectacular,” Garver recalls his mentor saying, “you’re down here at the bottom of Bloom’s Taxonomy.” He challenged Garver to infuse higher orders of learning into his teaching methodology. “I have been chasing that dream ever since,” Garver says.

I too have been chasing that dream. I knew from my own educational experience that most lectures made me sleepy and that even taking good notes didn’t mean I didn’t retain the material. I learned best and most deeply by “doing” something with the material: talking about it in groups, presenting it to the class, writing about it, applying it in a service learning context, using it for problem solving.

Until recently, it was relatively easy for my students and I to hold seminars in class to discuss material by moving our desks into a large circle or smaller groups. Unfortunately, new buildings at the college where I teach cram as many students as possible into the classrooms using tables that go from one end of the room almost all the way to the other making it very difficult for us to do anything other than sit in rows at the long tables.

And I am finding, when students are in those rows, it is easy just to stay on the stage.

What teaching strategies work for you to retain information from classes beyond the final exam? What classes do you remember the most? What information from a class have you used and how did you attain that information?

(Note to my English 2 students: you can read and respond to this blog post and to the article referenced for one of your 20 reading responses. Remember to use quotes and cite your sources.)

Jamie Oliver’s TED Talk: A Food Revolution

This semester, my college students and I discussed the Triple Bottom Line, a bottom line for businesses that goes beyond PROFIT to include people and the planet.

During the first third of the semester, we focused on the “people” part of the equation. Next, we looked at “food” as a way of seeing what we’re doing to the planet. Finally, for profit, we did some problem-posing and most of the students drew on their service learning experiences for their research papers to name, reflect and act on a problem.

Service learning goes beyond community service or volunteering. Students who engage in service learning maintain a reflective journal about what they do and what they’ve learned and to do research related to their service learning site.

As the semester comes to a close, I thought I’d post this TED Talk from Jamie Oliver–someone who has certainly made a name for himself when it comes to solving the problems related to diet related diseases in the US.

Here are some of my notes that I took while watching the above video:

Diet related disease is the biggest killer in the United States today, says Jamie Oliver, and we need a revolution. People are dying needlessly from obsesity and food related diseases.

Obesity costs 10% of health care bills and in less than 10 years this cost will double.

How to eat to save your life?

1) Avoid Fast food

2) Avoid Processed foods, eat instead fresh foods

3) Watch Portion size

4) Watch labeling

Home is not where food culture is created any more. So where will kids learn about food? asks Jamie Oliver. School? Where kids have flavored milk 2x a week? Chocolate milk has the same amount of sugar in it as a soda. What can we do? he asks.

Here are some of Jamie Oliver’s suggestions on how to decrease diet related diseases:

1) Have a “food ambassador” in every grocery store where someone will teach people how to cook

2) Fast food has to be part of the solution. We needed to be weaned off all the fat and sugar.

3) Kids at school need fresh food cooked on site, and that children know how to cook.

4) Corporations need to feed their employees responsibly.

Revolutionary if you ask me. Even more revolutionary if people get on board!

Seth Godin on Mediocre Professors

Are you paying for your own education? Are you in school to learn or for a grade? What are your motives, your goals? Are you in it just for yourself? Are you part of the problem or the solution?

“This is costing me a fortune, prof! Push us! Push yourself!” writes Seth Godin in a recent blog post.

Read more:

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/10/pushing-back-on-professors.html

Blog Action Day 2010 Friday: water water everywhere but is there enough to drink? (via art predator)

Students, you are strongly encouraged to participate in Blog Action Day! It’s this Friday but you can write a post anytime and schedule it to publish on Friday, October 15.

Blog Action Day 2010 Friday: water water everywhere but is there enough to drink? This Friday’s Blog Action Day focusing on water  has attracted some heavy hitter bloggers, namely, the White House and the UK Foreign Office will both be joining blogging about water October 15, and more will be announced as the week progresses. Will you be joining in? It only takes a few seconds to register your blog for Blog Action Day 2010. Can you help spread the word about this year’s Blog Action Day Friday October 15? Send an email to fello … Read More

via art predator

Eco-Fest Success

Here are a few photos from Thursday’s successful Eco-Fest event at Ventura College organized by students in Gwendolyn Alley’s English 1A and English 2 classes.

Students had tables set up with information on growing your own food, reasons to ride bikes, a bicycle mechanic was on duty, and more.City of Ventura Environmental Services shared information about recycling, composting, worm bins and more. Kendra from VCCool encouraged people to join in climate change activism. Daniel and Jennfier Richman showed off and sold some of their handmade jewelry. Albert Hernandez dj’d the event with some help from his classmates (and his dad!)

Thanks to everyone for making the this wintry event a success!

VC Eco-Pirates Present Eco-Fest Dec. 3

Save Santa! The Ventura College Eco-Pirates Present:
Eco-Fest– A DIY Day for Action Thursday December 3, 2009 8:30am-1:30pm

Can’t go to the UN’s Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen this December?
Join the Eco-Pirates in Ventura College quad 4667 Telegraph Road
and learn how you can “Do It Yourself” to help preserve the planet and ourselves.
Keep the North Pole from melting!

On Thursday, Dec. 3, 2009 from 8:30am-1:30pm, Ventura College students from Gwendolyn Alley’s English composition classes will offer a free “Eco-Fest: A Do It Yourself Day for Action” which they have organized over the last few weeks of the semester. Student presentations encourage cycling, gardening, ocean rescue, and self-empowerment.  All are welcome to this free event.

Students encourage participants to ride bikes or take public transportation to the event. Student and local bike mechanics will be on-hand to show cyclists how to fix their own bikes and look over bikes to make sure they are in shape for commuting.  Students will also be sharing eight reasons to ride and information about local fun rides including the monthly themed First Friday ArtRides to galleries around downtown Ventura. The next ride, the Save Santa Ride, asks: what will Santa due if the North Pole melts? (details follow)

Another student group will offer information on how to grow a salad. They will have seeds and soil so participants can begin at the event. An additional student group is concerned about women’s empowerment. In the Fireside Lounge, students will curate a film festival on these themes. Other entertainment includes art, music, handmade crafts and eco-friendly gifts.

To encourage participation at the Eco-Fest, Starbucks is donating coffee to those who bring their own cups and Noah’s Bagels will provide bagels. A small donation is requested for cream cheese. From 11:30-1pm, Milano’s is catering healthy pasta and salads for a small donation; samples will be free.

More info: http://bikergogal.wordpress.com and http://artpredator.wordpress.com

What will Santa do if  the North Pole melts due to climate change?
Join us for a Save Santa Bike Ride Fri. Dec. 5
Meet 4:45pm Ventura College corner Day/Telegraph
5-6pm Ride to Artists Union Gallery, California St & the Promenade
6-8pm Ride around downtown Ventura to open galleries
Party 8-10pm CSUCI Gallery corner of Main & CA  (unconfirmed as of 11/18/09)
for music, drinks, veggie pasta & salad from Milano’sVC